If you’re a fan of the ‘low and slow’ cooking method, chances are that you’ve heard of Pit Boss Grills.
They produce units that can turn out EPIC BBQ!
They are so many Pit Boss recipes you can try, as it char-grill, bake, smoke, roast, sear, and even braise.
A Pit Boss Grill uses wood pellets for its fuel source.
Some folk have trouble controlling the temperature with pellets. However, that is where the “P” setting comes in.
The most common question we get is “what is the P setting for?”.
This is an important concept to understand, as it affects how you control the temperature.
Don’t worry, read further and we’ll explain everything to you.
What is The Pit Boss P Setting?
The ‘p setting’ (stands for pause) allows you to control the way your Pit Boss cooks.
Pellet grills are unique because they have a pellet cycle.
These control how you grill replenishes and burns the pellets inside of it.
The “P” Set button actually allows you to halt this cycle for a certain amount of time.
Resource: See how to use a Pit Boss smoker here.
How Does The P Setting Work?
All you need to know is that the higher the number is set, the longer the pause is.
And vice versa, the lower the number equals a shorter pause.
Why is this important?
It helps you control the temperature fluctuations.
Therefore, you can use the p setting to control your Pit Boss Grill’s temperature settings.
Say ‘goodbye’ to annoying swings in temperature, and ‘hello’ to consistent temperatures all the time.
Adjusting the P Setting: What You Should Know
When modifying the p setting, keep in mind that lowering the pellet supply — or raising the pause duration — will lower the grill’s temperature.
As a result, the firebox will produce more smoke.
If you’re wondering why it’s because the pellets won’t ignite into a fire right away.
Instead, it will smolder, which will result in additional smoke.
As a result, if you do the opposite, the interior temperature of the grill will increase.
This is due to the fact that reducing the p setting will allow more pellets to enter the firebox; increasing the pellet flow.
This will cause the pellets to ignite more quickly, resulting in a larger fire.
Recommended Initial Setting
The official Pit Boss Grill manual and site suggest that you start on the default factory setting.
This means that you should set your P setting to the factory default setting of P-4. And you should use it on that factory setting before adjusting it.
And if you’ve ever wondered “Which P setting should I use for smoking a pork shoulder?”
Pork shoulder should be cooked ‘low and slow. So, in most cases, you’d want to increase that P setting so that there’s a lower pellet flow and a smaller fire.
We’d recommend trying it out at about P-5 or P-6
When To Adjust the P Setting
Let’s say that the current temperature of your grill is under 200°F and your Pit Boss is on the ‘smoke’ setting.
If you find yourself experiencing this scenario, then you’ll also notice that the internal temperature will begin to fluctuate.
This is when you should adjust the P setting — it’s designed to work with the ‘smoke’ mode.
This is because the P setting controls the pellet flow which affects the amount of smoke produced.
P Setting For Cold Weather
You may need to adjust the P Setting for cold weather. There is a comprehensive guide on doing this here.
Adjusting the P Setting: What You Should Know
You may notice that the P set button is indented.
Much like an old-school reset button that you’d find on devices from the 90s and early to mid-2000s.
It’s not something that you can reach with your finger.
It’s designed like this so that you won’t find yourself accidentally pushing it while you cook.
All you need to do if you want to change the P setting is to grab a toothpick (or something else that is small enough) and stick it through the tiny hole.
Unlike those old-school pesky reset buttons, you will not need to exert a lot of force.
Just push it lightly and you’ll see the number slowly increasing as the P setting goes up.
To Get Maximum Smoke Flavor
The higher the P setting is set to, the more the wood pellets have a chance to smolder.
This produces more smoke.
The P setting’s highest level is P-7. So you can slowly increase it and find what works best for you and how you want to cook the meat.
But you must keep in mind that more smoke equals less fire.
If your Pit Boss isn’t smoking see here to find out how to fix it.
So, just keep an eye on your grill and lower that P setting if it looks like the fire might go out.
If you’re still confused about all the settings, here’s a Pit Boss “P” setting temp chart to help you.
To Get Maximum Heat
How do you increase the heat? By making the fire bigger.
Just lower the P setting of your Pit Boss Grill to increase the flow of pellets.
This will ensure that there’s more ignition and the temperature will rise.
With a Temperature Dial Preset
If you’d like to control the temperature in a more accurate fashion, instead of eye-balling everything and fiddling around with the P setting, you can rely on the Pit Boss Grill’s temperature dial presets.
After you’ve preheated your grill, and set it to the ‘smoke’ mode, just set the dial to the temperature you’d like.
The grill will then maintain that temperature after it’s done preheating.
6. More Tips for Temperature Control
With all that said, the Pit Boss Grill’s P setting is not the only way to adjust the internal temperature.
We have a few other pieces of advice for you to try out.
1. Use a Dome Thermometer
A dome thermometer will tell you the temperature of the air above the food.
While it’s not going to give you completely accurate readings, it’s perfectly fine if you just want to know the approximate temperature.
A dome thermometer will be enough to give you an indication of whether or not you need to adjust your grill’s settings.
2. Use a Meat Probe
If you don’t want to rely on a dome thermometer, because it tells you the air temperature instead of the food’s, then you can always use a meat probe.
This will give you very accurate readings of the meat’s temperature.
So you’ll know how exactly when you should adjust the fire. These aren’t expensive and you can easily buy one in-store or online.
3. Make Sure You Cook With Quality Pellets
If you’re already using all-natural wood pellets with your Pit Boss Grill, you might want to go a step further and purchase actual Pit Boss brand pellets.
These were specifically designed for Pit Boss Grills and they’re guaranteed to work well in conjunction with the P setting.
Try using cherrywood or applewood for turkey, the flavors compliment each other well.
4. Keep The Smoker Door Closed
This is completely common knowledge, but we completely forget it sometimes too!
Try your best to resist the urge to open the smoker door when you don’t really need to.
Opening it too many times during a cook completely messes up the internal temperature of your grill.
You don’t want the temperature to drop unnecessarily. So, just be patient and keep that door shut!
5. Check the Burn Pot
Maintain the burn pot and make sure there aren’t any holes in it.
Much like an open smoker door, a hole will let heat escape unnecessarily.
Wrapping It Up
Now that you’ve learned what the P setting is, and how to use it, go and take control of your next big cook!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking and getting out in nature with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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2 thoughts on “Mastering The Pit Boss P Setting (Learn About The Smoke Setting)”
I am a first time pellet smoker buyer and just purchased a Pit Boss 850 Pro. It’s gonna be a steep learning curve. I’m 73 and not so sure I’m gonna be able to pull it off. I’m gonna try.
you got this!! What are you planning on smoking?